Pieces of my world

Saturday, October 07, 2006


A Life in the day of a Fresher

“Unnnngggg” a pyjama clad arm emerges from beneath the huddle of bedclothes. The snooze button is located; the piercing drill of the alarm clock ceases; she sinks back into the comforting blanket of sleep. All is well again in her world.

Until five minutes later, that is.

“Where is it? I- oh all right, all right, I hear you, goddamit!” I sigh, exasperated, as the incessant beep of the alarm clock doubles in frequency. (Never mind the trill of “Psycho”, the sound of the alarm clock is enough to send shivers of dread down my spine). The prospect of sleep is now well and truly shot. I cast a baleful glare at the innocuous LCD face of the alarm clock, which so efficiently destroyed my peaceful reverie, before glancing away. Looked back. Is that-? Could that really be-? “NINE O’CLOCK???!!” Yes, dammit, it IS! The planned peaceful and leisurely breakfast quickly descends into a panicked flurry of activity, before I hastily grab my thick winter coat (scoffed at in Manchester, necessary if you want to avoid frostbite here) and exit, only to return 5 minutes later. “Where are my keys? Where are my keys? WHERE ARE MY KEYS?? oh. They’re in my pocket, after all.” After taking a deep, calming breath, I ascertain where exactly it is that I’m going (Durham is not exactly a large place, but it’s amazing the number of times I’ve managed to get myself lost) and re-exit. “Great start to the day, OctoberPoppy”, I mutter grimly to myself as I stride down the cobbled hill. “What a fantastic way to head off to your very first lecture. Oh yes, you’re going to make a marvellous first impression aren’t yoWAAAHHH!!”

Wet slippery cobbles + Impractical shoes + Not watching where one is going = falling flat on one’s face straight into the mud and slush of the cobbles.

Red faced, I pick myself up, desperately avoiding the stares of several glamorous, perfectly made up, pashmina attired students that look like they’ve just stepped out of the pages of Vogue. I stare fixedly at the ground as I walk away, fighting to swallow my humiliated tears, whilst trying to avoid looking at the huge splodge of mud that mars my once immaculate coat. In a daze, I arrive at Elvet Riverside (sounds more like the name of a magical creature from “Lord of the Rings” than a grey concrete monolith in Durham, but there you go), and make my way through the labyrinth of stairwells and corridors to the room where my French induction is being held. To my relief, something is actually going to go well with this day- surprisingly I am not late after all, and I join the back of the queue with something like relief (after the two and a half hours spent queuing the previous day for a campus card- in the presence of chandeliers and carpet in a white tent, oddly enough- you would never think that I’d actually be grateful to see a queue, but there you have it). What a shame this was actually the Spanish queue, not the French one, but I somehow still managed to realise my mistake in time and not be late.

After my lecture (which I enjoyed, shock horror), I journeyed up the hill to Dunelm House for Freshers’ Fair. Oh my dear Lord. Now, now, faced with the swarming crowds, the somewhat flustered appearance of a fellow student who I’d met on the way makes sense. Cattle market is not the word. I manage to battle my way through the hordes and the first stall I make my way to is “LGBTA”. Hmmm, sounds interesting, I thought. Wonder what that stands for? Dumbly, I accept a flyer from the woman at the stall who seems unhealthily eager to prise the money for a life membership from my hand. That’s when it hits- lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender association. “Oh, but you don’t understand-” I cut through the woman’s spiel about how I can feel at ease and comfortable and free to be who I am. “I’m not a lesbian!” “Oh well, if you’re sure-” The woman’s look is disbelieving, ‘ha, she’s clearly in denial’, being stamped firmly all over it. “No, truly! I didn’t realise what you stand for-” I back away as hurriedly as possible and retreat down the stairs, into L’enfer. It’s hot, disorientating, cramped…I quickly lose the will to say “no” and accumulate sheafs of paper, weighty booklets and other paraphernalia. As my arms begin to ache, I realise that a bag is sorely needed. I stop, look around- ah, BSM has plastic carrier bags on their stall! That will do! Purposefully, I stride over and accost the salesman (funny, normally it’s them harassing me) and ask him outright what I have to do to get a bag. Safely signed up for driving lessons I don’t want, with a made-up email address (learn that trick and use it!) I stuff my collection of assorted leaflets into my newly acquired bag, complete with a rather nifty ‘tri-highlighter’ and BSM plastic key ring. (I like the way they say it’s only £20 for a solitary driving lesson- as though it’s somehow not the equivalent of an entire weekly budget for food shopping).

Speaking of food shopping, I remember after the ‘fun’ of Freshers Fair, that the cupboards are empty, the fridge contains nothing edible and it’s reached that marvellous time- shopping (Unless you are able to concoct an evening meal consisting solely of Worcester Sauce, Pineapple and a battered can of Chopped Tomatoes- if so, you are obviously a better cook than myself). I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated home as much as I do now. I have learnt that it really isn’t the best move to throw things in your shopping cart, get to the checkout, panic and hope desperately that you have enough money. I have also learnt that saving money on Supermarket own brand goods isn’t always preferable to spending more but getting a superior product: Tesco Value stick-in-your-throat, consistency-of-glue, Peanut Butter doesn’t really cut it for me. I have learnt that the teabags which just “appear” at home actually cost money (shock horror!) and that, when self-catering, it is sometimes necessary to weigh up “Do I spend my last pennies on another pint of Snakebite in the college Bar, or do I actually eat tomorrow??” The final, and perhaps most important, thing I have learnt is that it is all too easy to fill your shopping trolley in the supermarket with “essentials” (hey, I desperately needed those Andrex toilet rolls and kilo bag of pasta twirls!) but lugging home six heavy shopping bags is no easy feat (and trust me, when you puff and pant home, laden like a pack horse, red in the face, feeling the necessity of stopping for a break every 10 steps, you WILL get odd looks).

After shopping and my culinary efforts in producing dinner (which involve the highly strenuous task of cracking open a frozen pizza box), I hurriedly retreat to my bedroom to begin the (very important, you understand) task of choosing what to wear to the bar this evening. I have to say, I am regretting my decision to leave the LBD (girls, you know what I mean) out of the suitcase and am instead left with the choice of a lowcut polka dot dress (no thanks, I don’t want to expose my entire cleavage to the nippy Durham air, thankyou very much), jeans and a top that isn’t actually stained with the residue of my attempts to concoct Sweet and Sour stir fry (a burnt, congealed mess that ended up being chucked to the bottom of the rubbish bin- you can see now why I stick with the frozen pizza) or- well actually, those are my only two options. As I stand before this veritable plethora of choice, the thought strikes me, delicately…for Christ’s Sake, OctoberPoppy, it’s only a drink in a dimly lit, smoky bar! Who’s going to be looking at you? (Who said I had high self-esteem??) So I opt for the sensible option of jeans and top- the going out, having a drink and socially mingling is more important than wearing a pretty dress which I am sure to contract Pneumonia in. After all, after a day like today, I think the drink is sorely needed…


Blogger sweetpea said...

Your not the only one to fall in the trap of accepting something you want ie fliers.

I was visiting my local City(which is classed as one but I dont think so) anyway somebody gave me a flier and I kindly smiled, (I knew I shouldnt have smiled)and plonk right into my lap was given something that I didnt. I suppose thats what you get when you are disabled.

Anyway OctoberPoppy thank you for another installment on your daily life.

Hope your pride was not to bashed when you fell

I wonder if you can tell who is writing it!!!!

7:06 pm  
Blogger Kim said...

just wanted to say hi :)

I enjoyed this entry - how I can relate to so much of it!

Hope everything is still going well for you in your new life as an undergrad. :)

2:45 am  

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